PHOENIX — More than 450 Arizona students are now scrambling after Argosy University abruptly announced it was shutting down this week.
Phoenix is one of 11 cities where the university has a physical presence. They also have more than 5,000 online students, and all of the online records and classes are run out of Phoenix.
The university ran out of money and a court has stated the company that owns Argosy, Dream Center Education Holdings, took $13 million in federal aid for student stipends and used it for payroll.
"I've been abandoned."
Ron Casaubon is a student refugee and Marine veteran.
"Most of us are just wanting a solution," he said.
The 59-year-old is getting his doctoral degree in psychology, and plans to work at the VA hospital once he finishes up his last credit.
That last credit may take much longer though, after Argosy University announced it was ending all operations March 8th.
"The school is dissolving as a result of no money to pay payroll," said Casaubon.
Students are now scrambling to get their transcripts and find a new school to help them finish their hard work.
"It's a fire drill in there right now, everyone is trying to figure out what to do," said Mike Volrich, who had waited for more than an hour and half to get his transcript on Thursday.
Like Casaubon, Volrich was about to graduate with his doctorate and has loans.
"I'm about $200,000 in right now," he said. "All from Argosy."
"My total loans are about $150,000 now," said Casaubon.
"We are still without any guidance."
Since the school took the students' stipends to make payroll, thousands of students in Phoenix and across the country are without their weekly income.
"Some of us are even fasting. We are eating one meal a day," said Casaubon.
One classmate "had to take up a third job" and dozens are getting evicted across the country, according to Volrich, who is part of an Argosy Facebook group.
"I had to get extensions on credit cards," said Casaubon.
Then there's the degree.
"There's talk that we may have to repeat coursework if we transfer," said Casaubon.
"Nobody knows what to do. Everybody is stuck," said Volrich.
Very few schools offer the same programs and degrees as Argosy.
"It is very difficult for a student at a Masters level or a doctoral level to find programs that are comparable," said Kevin Lamountain, an administrator with the Arizona State Board for Private Post Secondary Education. "In all my years of education and all my years doing this, this is the most difficult one and challenging. Because we are talking about baccalaureate students, masters programs an doctoral programs."
Lamountain said the board is helping students figure out their next steps.
"We will continue over the next few months and beyond that to help the students find a location," he said.
"I’ve put in a lot of time to come this far."
While Casaubon plans to work at a VA hospital and help fellow veterans, Volrich plans to "work with kids with neurodevelopmental disorders."
This week is a huge setback, but both men say their education won't end when Argosy University does.